ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reid Brignac homered on a full count pitch leading off the bottom of the 11th inning Monday night, sending the Tampa Bay Rays into first place in the AL East with a 1-0 victory over the New York Yankees.
Brignac connected off Sergio Mitre (0-3), the fourth Yankees reliever that followed CC Sabathia, who pitched eight scoreless innings in pursuit of his major league-leading 20th win.
Grant Balfour (2-1) pitched one inning to get the win for the Rays, who pulled ahead of the defending world champions for the division lead.
The Yankees have lost a season-high four straight and managed just four hits — three off 17-game winner David Price — as the teams began a stretch in which they'll meet seven times over 11 days.
With first place and baseball's best record on the line, Sabathia and Price were at their best before a crowd of 26,907 — about 10,000 shy of capacity — at Tropicana Field. The left-handers are the top two winners in the AL and showed why, with neither allowing a runner past second base.
Sabathia, who walked two and struck out nine over eight innings, limited the Rays to Kelly Shoppach's third-inning single until Sean Rodriguez opened the eighth with a sharp grounder into center field for Tampa Bay's second hit.
After hitting Shoppach with a pitch to put runners at first and second with one out, the Yankees ace struck out B.J. Upton and got Jason Bartlett to ground into a force play to send a scoreless game to the ninth.
Price, second in the AL with 17 wins, allowed three hits, walked two and struck out four over eight innings. He kept the game even, working out of a jam in the seventh by getting Alex Rodriguez to pop to second and Marcus Thames to fly to center after Robinson Cano singled and Mark Teixeira walked with one out.
It was the second career matchup between Sabathia and Price. They also met last Oct. 2 at Tropicana Field, with Price limiting the Yankees to one run and two hits over seven innings to win 13-4 and deny Sabathia his 20th win in his final start of last season.
Price faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings this time, with Derek Jeter being erased on a double play after a first-inning single and Jorge Posada caught stealing after walking on a 3-1 pitch with two outs in the fifth.
Sabathia was just as impressive, breezing through the first eight batters before Shoppach singled and Upton walked with two outs in the third. Bartlett lined out to end the inning as Sabathia settled into a groove again and retired 12 in a row before walking Ben Zobrist with two outs in the seventh.
Both teams had a chance to win in the 10th. The Yankees threat ended abruptly when pinch-runner Bret Gardner was caught trying to steal third. The Rays wasted their opportunity when pinch hitter Brad Hawpe struck out to leave the bases loaded against Yankees reliever Chad Gaudin.
This was the fourth time in the past five seasons that a pair of AL pitchers with at least 17 wins have faced each other. Two of the other three also involved the Yankees and Red Sox with Chien-Ming Wang facing Josh Beckett in 2007 and Mike Mussina going against Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008. Last Oct. 4, Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Texas' Scott Feldman met. … Rays LF Carl Crawford went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Tom Hallion after taking a called third strike from Kerry Wood in the ninth.
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